The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Power sermon on Mount Abu

Mount Abu, Nov. 8: The sermon on Mount Abu had all the words Congressmen were straining to hear. Displaying her newly-acquired confidence, Sonia Gandhi today gave a clarion call to party leaders across the country to throw the BJP out of power.

The “people of India” have pinned their hopes on the Congress to take the country from stagnation to growth, from strife to harmony and from darkness to light, Sonia told a meeting of Congress chief ministers in Mount Abu. “The country is looking to the Congress to provide a government that will govern and lead, an administration that will administer.”

She proceeded to give a lengthy prescription of how the Congress should go about achieving its target. Blending aggression with advice, Sonia told the chief ministers that a lot more has to be done in areas such as women empowerment, administrative reforms, innovative schemes and other areas of governance to score over a “tottering” BJP and its allies.

“We have to consolidate, retain power in the states where we are in office and oust the BJP and its regional allies in states where we are in opposition,” she said.

The AICC chief made it a point not to refer to coalitions or its allies, asserting the primacy of the Congress in national politics.

Sonia referred to Gujarat, which is less than an hour’s drive from Mount Abu, asking voters in the state to reject politics of hate and religious intolerance. “We are going to the people of Gujarat with one overriding message — the message of religious tolerance and understanding, of social reconciliation and amity,” Sonia said. She added that Gujarat’s economic success can only be sustained if bigotry is defeated.

The AICC chief said the Vajpayee regime has failed on all fronts. “The country has seen through the hollow claims being made by the BJP-led coalition which has been a comprehensive failure,” she said, promising to revive growth, foster peace and enhance India’s stature in the world.

In her opening remarks, Sonia asked the chief ministers to be more “self-critical” and introspective instead of exaggerating achievements.

“We must honestly acknowledge what we have been unable to do. Unless we identify our shortcomings and problems, unless we come to grips with our limitations and weaknesses as they are perceived by the public at large, how will we ever implement our manifestos, our resolves and our plans of action effectively'” Sonia asked.

The two-day meeting is being held at the Cama Rajputhana Resort Club where a corporate-like schedule is being followed. All chief ministers have prepared 20-minute presentations.


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